PhD, Yale University
Assistant Professor of Human Genetics and Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute
Evolution of the cerebral cortex is thought to underlie our species’ most remarkable cognitive, perceptive, and motor capabilities, the execution of which depends on the precise establishment of axonal connectivity during development. Miswiring of cortical circuitry can lead to disorders that affect the most distinctly human cognitive functions, including autism and schizophrenia. Research in the Kwan laboratory is aimed at understanding the developmental processes that underlie cortical circuit assembly, their evolution during the emergence of human cognition, and their dysregulation in neurodevelopmental disorders. Our approach integrates: 1) human genetic and genomic studies to identify candidate genes; 2) neurobiological analyses of genetically-engineered mouse models and post-mortem human brains to characterize the roles of these genes in circuit development; and 3) investigations of their molecular interactions to dissect candidate pathways of normal and disordered neocortical development.